London: Three women, believed to be British, are using social media to reach out to western Muslims to join them with the Islamic State (IS) and open up a new front in the north African country of Libya, the media reported on Sunday.
The three native English-speaking women have been monitored for months by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), a London-based thinktank, and are believed to be British.
ISD said the three women have been living in the wartorn north African country since at least the start of this year, the Guardian reported.
Using a variety of social media platforms, including Twitter and encrypted messaging apps such as Surespot and Telegram, the women have reached out to their hundreds of followers and as routes into Syria via its 500-mile border with Turkey have become further restricted they have advertised the journey to Libya as the easiest way of joining the terror group.
Melanie Smith, an expert in western female jihadis, said evidence of women travelling to Libya to start a new life under Isis represented a dangerous tipping point.
“Where we see movements of women migrating, that represents the organisation trying to consolidate their territory and state-build rather than just fight and conquer territory. And the more that you consolidate that territory, the more you populate that territory, the more difficult it is for that to change,” she said.
Smith added that their social media networks were “very British-heavy” and they associated with known British jihadis fighting abroad and domestic extremists.
The British government has laid out strict measure to anyone travelling to Libya.
“The UK advises against all travel to Libya. Anyone who does travel, for whatever reason, is putting themselves in considerable danger. People seeking to travel to engage in terrorist activity overseas should be in no doubt we will take the strongest possible action to protect our national security,” a government official said.
Reports from Libya indicate that many British volunteers for IS move to Syria via Tunisia and Libya where they receive training before going on to Turkey to transit to Syria.
The route makes them harder to detect among the hundreds of thousands of British tourists who flock to Tunisia.